North Carolina Central University Blog

Trending Topics at NCCU Online

Health Promotion Specialist: Overview and How to Become

Written by: North Carolina Central University   •  May 30, 2024

Health promotion specialist talking with other professionals.

Health Promotion Specialist: Overview and How to Become One

Healthy communities do not happen by accident. Rather, they are assembled through a careful combination of policies, programs, and general awareness. The role of the health promotion specialist is to advocate for physical well-being throughout their community and to create the infrastructure required to make healthy lifestyles feasible.

For those who are passionate about public health and who are interested in pursuing healthier outcomes through advocacy and policies, this role may be highly rewarding. A good first step toward success as a health promotion specialist is to pursue a relevant degree, such as in the field of public health.

What Is a Health Promotion Specialist? 

Health promotion specialists work within a particular community to encourage healthier lifestyles and to advocate for improved standards of physical fitness. In this role, a health promotion professional may create and distribute health and wellness literature, develop and execute community health programs, and develop new policies that pertain to wellness promotion or disease prevention.

Health Promotion vs. Health Education

The role of a health promotion specialist is similar to that of a health educator. However, where health education focuses more on creating awareness around public health issues and increasing health literacy, health promotion centers on strategies to improve community health with consideration of the social and political factors affecting it. Health promotion specialists empower communities to improve overall health through individual and group techniques that change behaviors and work to address systemic and institutional barriers.

Work Environment

The work environment for a health promotion specialist can vary and may be a public school, a community clinic, or a public health facility. Government agencies, private health organizations, or nonprofits may employ these professionals.

Job Description

The duties and responsibilities associated with this role can vary from one position to the next. A typical job description looks something like this:

  • Create and execute community health programs, encouraging behaviors such as regular physical activity, sound nutrition, diabetes care, or vaccinations.
  • Advocate for health awareness within the community, creating and distributing educational materials or leading community courses.
  • Meet with individuals, encouraging them to set and pursue healthy goals.
  • Provide one-on-one counseling or coaching for individuals seeking to be more fit and active.

Health Promotion Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

Those interested in this role will naturally have some questions about the salary range and job outlook. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides both salary and job outlook data for health education specialists, a role closely related to health promotion specialists. The data suggests that health promotion can be a promising field for those who seek to make a long-term impact.

Salary Range

As of March 2024, the BLS reports that  the median annual salary for the role is approximately $59,990. Several factors may affect the salary, including years of experience, level of education, and geographic location. 

Job Outlook

The BLS also projects the health education field to grow at a rate of about 7% between 2022 and 2032. This rate is slightly faster than the average for all professions, suggesting a growing interest in public and community health.

How to Become a Health Promotion Specialist 

To succeed in this role, accumulating the right portfolio of skills is important. Doing so usually entails earning a formal degree and gaining some on-the-job experience.


The typical health promotion specialist role requires an undergraduate degree. Earning a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field can provide the formative skills needed to succeed in this role.

Many roles will also require an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science (MS) in a field related to public health. Even when advanced degrees are not required, they can contribute to higher salaries and more prestigious positions.


It is normal for health promotion roles to require three to five years of experience in a public health facility or in a role that involves data analysis as well as public speaking. This experience can be vital for cultivating skills further.


Another way to prepare for this role is to seek certification. While this is not necessarily required, it can lead to greater opportunities for career growth. The most common certification in this field is the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. 

Skills Formation

Through this combination of education, experience, and certification, aspiring public health professionals may develop a wide range of skills. The most essential skills in this profession include the following:

  • Written and oral communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Analytic thinking
  • Presentation and reporting

Explore Roles Promoting Public Well-Being

Healthy communities do not happen without plenty of strategy, ongoing education, and continuous advocacy. A lot of this work falls to health promotion specialists, who play an essential role in cultivating healthy cities and neighborhoods across the country.

To succeed in this role, seek a robust education that helps develop the skills needed for community health work. North Carolina Central University provides a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, ensuring the skills needed to make a long-term, positive impact. Find out more about the benefits of this program today. 

Recommended Readings

What Is a Health Educator?

How Community Health Programs Promote Public Health

HR Manager Career Overview


CDC Foundation, What Is Public Health?

iCliniq, “Healthy Promotion and Education - All You Need to Know”

Indeed, “How to Become a Health Promotion Specialist (Complete Guide)”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health Education Specialists

Zippia, What Is a Health Promotion Specialist and How to Become One

ZipRecruiter, What Is a Health Promotion Specialist and How to Become One

Request Info